California utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), claims to have passed a milestone by drawing over 20% of its power from renewable energy sources in 2013.
California’s renewables portfolio standard (RPS) introduced in 2002, requires utilities to meet a 33% renewables mandate by 2020, and is one of the most ambitious renewable energy targets in the US.
PG&E said it is the first time a utility has sourced more than 20% of its power from reneables over a year; the utility sourced the powerfrom solar, wind, biomass, small hydro-electric and geothermal sources.
Overall PG&E reported that 22.5% of its energy sources came from renewables in 2013, and said it was on track to meet various renewable energy targets.
Since 2002, the utility said it had signed more than 155 contracts for 10.6GW of renewable energy.
“More than 55% of our electricity comes from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources,” said John Conway, senior vice president of Energy Supply for PG&E.
But despite PG&E’s activities in promoting solar in the US, it is also one of many utilities being accused of undermining distibuted solar generation delivered under net metering arrangements.
Last year leading rooftop solar providers SolarCity, Sungevity, Sunrun and others joined forces to form a lobbying group, the Alliance for Solar Choice, to counter what they said were efforts by utility companies, including PG&E, to curb NEM.
Also early last year, PG&E’s “pre-Gutenberg” manual billing was named as one of the top five biggest money wasters for California utilities by environmental campaign body the Sierra Club. Sierra Club claimed that California utilities are pushing billions of dollars in costs on to customer bills, through dirty energy projects and outdated business practices.
But the US utility and solar peacemaker, the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA), analysed US utilities incorporating solar into their energy portfolio last summer, and revealed PG&E to be the most solar-friendly utility, as well as in 2012.
PG&E accounted for over 800 of the 2,384MW of solar electricity integrated by utilities in 2012. This was 80% more than its 2011 figure.
In 2012, US utilities were responsible for integrating almost 2.4GW of solar capacity.